Jackson Memorial Hospital Gets Gay-Friendly Visitation Policy, Joins the 21st Century

For years, Jackson Memorial Hospital has made US News & World Report's "Best Hospitals" list. But its reputation among gay people has been one of the worst in the country. 

The reason is partly due to a court case filed by a lesbian named Janice Langbehn. In February 2007, hospital staff kept the Washington state native from the bedside of her dieing partner. Although the couple had been together for 18 years -- and had adopted three children together -- the hospital did not acknowledge them as a family. Her partner died alone. 

Yesterday Jackson announced some good news: The hospital, which is the third largest in the country, has broadened its visitation policy to include same-sex partners. They will also adopt training methods to teach employees about LGBT families. "It's a milestone," says CJ Ortuno, director SAVE Dade, an equal rights organization. "They are really committing to changing the culture of the hospital."

Hospital training sessions will focus on patient non-discrimination, visitation, decision-making and cultural competency. In some cases, staffers will take continuing education classes.

Jackson has been working with LGBT organizations such as SAVE for over a year on the making itself more inclusive. "For them it's less of a change and more what they have always felt and believed," Ortuno says.

Families come in all kinds of packages, so congrats to JMH on an improved policy, which you can view here.

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Natalie O'Neill
Contact: Natalie O'Neill